Wednesday, December 23, 2009

20th Anniversary of the Democratic Opening in Mongolia

Greetings on behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate you as you celebrate the 20thanniversary of Mongolian democracy.

The brave young people who gathered on the streets in those cold December days in 1989, including a young man who would one day be elected as your new President, helped pave the way for Mongolia to become a dynamic and durable democracy. All over the world that year, we saw a flowering of freedom. People stood up and walls came down.

Democracy is never easy Americans can attest to that. And Mongolia has faced its share of challenges. But through every challenge, the people of Mongolia have pulled together and have risen to the occasion. You have become a model for emerging democracies everywhere. Whenever I visit a country that is struggling to become more democratic, I say what I said when I was in Mongolia: “Let them come to Mongolia!” Because I will never forget my own visit in 1995 -- the sweeping beauty of the steppe, the warmth and hospitality of the Mongolian people, and the aspirations of a nation committed to progress after decades of totalitarian rule.

In the years since, Mongolia has consolidated those early achievements and strengthened your democracy. Today even, Mongolian troops are serving around the world as peacekeepers, helping to bring stability to troubled lands. Mongolians and Americans are fighting side by side in Afghanistan against violent extremists who threaten peace-loving people everywhere. We honor the service and sacrifice of your citizens, and we reaffirm the broad partnership between our two nations that is helping build a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Please accept my best wishes on this historic occasion. And have a wonderful celebration.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Puppy Deaths?

This blog has been smouldering on the back burner for quite some time. I saw two things and then was reading Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and some things came together, at least, it seemed to at the time.

The first event was this: walking to school past the city maintenance building and heard yelping/crying of sorts. Not terribly odd on a cold morning but looked around to see where it was coming from. Next to the small white maintenance building was a pile of dogs. Apparently not all of them had been finished off properly... At certain times during the year dogs are shot and disposed of because they likely won't survive the upcoming cold temperatures or are a nuisance. If you want your dog spared you tie something around its neck on those nights and hope the gun carriers notice.

The next day I was walking by the kindergarten again on my way to work. In front of the school was a large crow (a large black bird of some sort, not certain) making quite the noises. Looked over to see that it was on its back trying to flip itself back over, which seemingly wasn't going to happen... Seemed ironic.

Then, like I mentioned, I was reading Suzuki with these things still on my mind. He describes visiting a waterfall. He argues that single existences are like the drops that fall in the waterfall: before the water reaches the falls it doesn't "feel" any discomfort it is just flowing along pleasantly, then it divides as it falls causing "pain" before finally reuniting with its watery friends forming a single unit at the bottom of the falls.


In other news I am in UB having just come back from Darkhan where I helped with a recording of the Secret History of Mongolia. Getting some work done in the city: picking up things for the library in Bayankhongor, recording some more piano pieces, and relaxing (maybe seeing the Nutcracker this evening). Then it's off to Darkhan again for Christmas and the weekend before going to visit family in Javkhlant for New Years!